Anthony Albanese and Jacinda Ardern are making their opening remarks before a press conference scheduled for 11.20am.
Victoria’s premier Daniel Andrews is in Geelong today, where he is announcing a new women’s and children’s hospital to cost $500m.
The new Barwon Women’s and Children’s hospital will provide maternity and paediatric services, with work to begin later this year.
It will be built alongside the existing University hospital in Geelong.
The crowds are big at Sydney airport, but they’re moving.
Covid vaccinations rates
A little more than half of senior Australians eligible for their fourth Covid-19 vaccination have received it, AAP reports.
Federal government figures released yesterday show just 52.2% of the eligible population aged 65 and over have received their fourth jab for the virus, equating to more than 1.6 million people. That was up 1.6% on the same time last week.
In total and accounting for those aged under 65, more than 1.8 million Australians have received at least four doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Snowy Hydro delay
While not the biggest surprise, a report in the AFR this morning that Snowy Hydro’s giant pumped hydro plans might be delayed until “around 2028” is nonetheless stirring the energy debate anew.
Analysts including Melbourne University’s Dylan McConnell and Bruce Mountain of the Victoria Energy Policy Centre have long queried the insistence by the Australian Energy Market Operator in its detailed plans that Snowy 2.0 would be ready when the grid needs it.
For instance, Aemo’s latest Electricity Statement of Opportunities report has a “Developments needed to address forecast reliability gaps” section.
It states the case for work on the Humelink connection to the project as:
Development of transmission projects that increase the ability to transfer power from regions into the Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong area. Such upgrades are particularly relevant to access the reliability benefits of the expected commissioning of the Snowy 2.0 development in 2025-26.
“It will make for an interesting update to the ESoO – due in August,” McConnell says, adding that news of Snowy’s delay should be considered a significant enough “material change” to trigger a rerun of the whole process.
We’ve asked Aemo this morning about what they think of the delay of Snowy by “about 19 months”, although you have to wonder at the precision, given the engineering challenges of building a power station almost a kilometres below the surface, 27km-long tunnels and a range of other massive works – all within a national park!
One other nugget: as interesting as this delay is to the energy market – not least because of last week’s crisis when Victoria almost ran short of gas – a possible delay for Snowy 2.0 was not discussed at Wednesday’s energy ministers’ meeting. Given that most of the meeting was taken up by regulators talking about the state of the energy markets, that’s another eyebrow raiser.
As it happens, electricity markets were again pricey this morning, especially in Queensland.
They’ve settled down a bit since … but one factor was a bunch of alerts (now cancelled) for a lack of reserve power in NSW.
Conditions on another chilly morning were tight … and it looks as though the chill has another week to go (at least if you’re camping in Sydney).
OK, if you’re flying from Melbourne or Sydney to warmer Queensland, you may receive a surprise.
In the form of a fogbow:
From the BoM:
Fogs can … produce a type of rainbow known as a fogbow. They form in the same way as rainbows, with the sun’s rays being refracted and reflected by the water droplets in the fog.
However, fog droplets are typically much smaller than the rain drops that form rainbows. This leads to smaller amounts of refraction and reflection so the colours in a fogbow are less distinct and often appear to be white.
She’s frosty out there this morning in New South Wales! No wonder Sydney airport is jammed.
Ukraine seeks free trade deal with Australia
Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia is seeking to meet with ministers to discuss trade and aid opportunities after returning from the war-torn country, AAP reports.
Vasyl Myroshnychenko has returned to Australia after an eight-day trip to Ukraine where he met President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s top advisers, the prime minister, the defence minister and military officials.
Myroshnychenko has called for a free trade agreement between Australia and Ukraine, and says while it is likely to play a largely symbolic role, it will be important to encourage private and public investment in his country to help with its recovery.
The ambassador is seeking to brief Australian ministers on the situation with Ukraine and ask for more lethal aid and economic assistance.
He told AAP:
Co-operation with Australia to help rebuild Ukraine is crucial. We are like-minded countries. We hope there will be mechanisms that allow investors from countries like Australia to come in and help rebuild the country.
The bilateral trade deal could be modelled on the UK free trade agreement and be completed within a year, Myroshnychenko says.
Such a deal was raised with the previous government but talks stalled as Australia headed into the federal election and caretaker conventions took over.
The ambassador will bring three pillars to any meetings with Australian ministers, calling for more lethal aid, free trade and investment, and further sanctions on Russia and Russian individuals.
Myroshnychenko has also returned with a personal letter for Anthony Albanese from President Zelenskiy, congratulating the new prime minister and inviting him to visit Ukraine.
Foreign affairs minister Penny Wong spoke with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba at the start of the month, when he requested additional heavy weapons and proposed the inclusion of Ukraine in Australia’s “generalised system of preferences” to bolster the economy.
Littleproud backs current NZ deportation rules
David Littleproud pushing the “if you don’t like it, leave” argument on the deportation of New Zealand citizens who have committed criminal offences, regardless of the length of time they have lived in Australia.
Leave plenty of time before your flight if you’re jetting off today, folks.